Kurt Busch on pole for Sunday's Virginia race
Jeff Gordon scraped the wall on his run but qualified second.
By GREG ENGLE
SPORTING NEWS NASCAR WIRE SERVICE
MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- This week, Kurt Busch's qualifying time was not taken away.
Busch won the pole for Sunday's Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Going out 34th of 50 drivers Friday, Busch lapped the .526-mile track in 19.408 seconds (97.568 mph).
"It was great lap," Busch said. "Totally unexpected for me, but this team has always qualified well at this track with Rusty [Wallace] behind the wheel."
During qualifying at Lowe's Motor Speedway last week, Busch qualified second but had his time disallowed after NASCAR found a problem with the right rear shock on the No. 2 Dodge. NASCAR confiscated the shock, and the Penske Racing team was forced to start Saturday's race at the rear of the field.
This week, NASCAR suspended Busch's crew chief, Roy McCauley, until Nov. 1 because of the incident. NASCAR also docked Busch 50 driver championship points, and car owner Roger Penske was penalized 50 owner championship points.
Busch's run was his first career Martinsville pole, and the sixth of his 2006 season.
"This is his favorite track," Busch said of McCauley. "This is for him."
Gordon second, Hamlin third
Jeff Gordon, who went out 18th and held the top spot until Busch's run, starts on the outside front row. Gordon scraped the wall on the second of his two qualifying laps.
"We're having fun being here and trying to make the most of it," said Gordon, currently 10th in the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup. "I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't hit the wall, but I don't think it was going to be better anyway."
Rookie and Virginia native Denny Hamlin (sixth in points) will start third in his home state; Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart rounded out the top five.
"I'm pretty happy with that," Hamlin said. "I felt like I hit the lap pretty good. I didn't overdrive like I did here in the spring."
Chase contenders Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson also qualified in the top 10, and will start seventh and ninth, respectively.
Kasey Kahne will start furthest back of the Chase contenders in 32nd. Points leader Jeff Burton will roll off in 28th, Mark Martin 25th, Matt Kenseth 20th, Kyle Busch 15th, and Kevin Harvick 12th.
Ward Burton, making his return to NASCAR Nextel Cup racing for the first time in nearly two years, made the field on speed in the No. 4 Chevrolet for Morgan-McClure Motorsports. He'll start 35th.